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Suing Social Media

In April 2024, four Ontario school boards initiated legal actions against social media giants, alleging that the companies’ platforms have contributed to a range of mental health challenges among their students. They are seeking $4.5 billion in total damages.

What kind of outcomes can we expect from these lawsuits? Can they lead to meaningful change? Do social media companies really hold a duty of care to the school boards? What can we learn from similar efforts elsewhere to protect kids?

This event will be hosted by the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy at McGill University and the Dais at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Date: Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EDT

Location: Toronto Metropolitan University


Frances Haugen

In 2021, Frances Haugen exposed thousands of internal Facebook documents, revealing that the company was aware of the harm caused by its product but still prioritized profit over safety. Her revelations sparked a broad discussion on the imperative for democratic governments to regulate social media platforms. She has emerged as a prominent advocate on the global stage, championing policies aimed at enhancing accountability and transparency within technology firms, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding children’s online well-being.

Dr. Alexia Polillo

Dr. Alexia Polillo is a staff scientist in the Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She obtained her PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Ottawa and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at CAMH. Dr. Polillo’s research is at the intersection of digital mental health, social media, evaluation, and lived experience engagement. Her research focuses on evaluating hospital- and community-based mental health services to improve access, engagement, and quality of care using mixed and participatory methods and leverages digital tools and social media to improve youth mental health.

Rachel Chernos Lin

Rachel Chernos Lin is the Chair of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and represents the riding of Don Valley West (TDSB Ward 11). Since being elected in 2018, Rachel has championed parent/guardian/caregiver engagement and creating conditions for high expectations for student achievement and excellence for all, based on a foundation of equity. As TDSB Chair, Rachel has led policy change initiatives and advocated for province and district-wide improvements such as investment in long-term, sustainable education funding, anti-hate and anti-racism strategies, and tackling food insecurity. She recently co-presented at the National School Boards Association conference in New Orleans, LA, highlighting the TDSB’s work in combating anti-hate and anti-racism and discrimination in schools. Rachel holds a Master’s Degree in History from Brown University.

Martin Regg Cohn

Martin Regg Cohn is a political columnist at the Toronto Star. Founder of the Democracy Forum at Toronto Metropolitan University, he is a Senior Fellow at the Dais. A foreign correspondent for 11 years in Asia and the Middle East, he was also Foreign Editor and a Parliamentary correspondent. He is a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

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